Many aspiring writers ask more experienced writers the question, “Do I have writing talent?” That’s not the right question to ask to know if you should be a writer. Writing is a skill. Sure, some inherent talent with words is helpful. Still, writing success mostly comes down to developing a wide set of writing related skills.
Here are five writing skills you should practice so that you can be a better writer. It doesn’t matter whether you’re seasoned in writing or starting out. Anyone can improve on these particular aspects of writing.
Build Your Vocabulary
It’s highly important to have a well-rounded vocabulary. You don’t have to use all the words you know on a regular basis. But, it is important to know what words are best used in different contexts. Many words have similar meanings. Also, learn how to be sensitive to the subtle differences between words.
This is why it’s good to always have a dictionary or thesaurus on hand. You can always Google a definition. Still, having a paperback of these handy reference books is actually quite helpful. You don’t want to be using the same words over and over again, but also be careful that you don’t use synonyms to be fancy.
Be Clear With Your Writing’s Message
You can write the most brilliant prose you’ve ever read. But, if your readers don’t “get it” then it doesn’t matter how much time you spent writing it. You have to be clear with your message through your writing. If you tend to be long-winded, a lot of people may not be able to follow along well. If you tend to cram too many ideas into a single long paragraph, people may lose your train of thought.
If you feel called to share your literary genius with the world, that’s great. But keep in mind that you want as many people as possible to actually understand what you are saying. That doesn’t mean you have to dumb down what you are saying. It means that you should be as straightforward as possible.
Know When to Put a Piece of Writing Aside to Look at It With Fresh Eyes Later
Sometimes it is best to write something and set it aside. Don’t put it right out into the world right away. It may be fine to let a trusted writer friend look a first draft over. But it’s often the case that putting aside your first draft is the best thing for your writing. Coming back to it the next day can allow you to see a piece with fresh eyes.
Trying to write a piece and edit it in a single sitting can be a daunting task. Put it aside and return to it later. Then, see if anything needs revising, replacing, or rearranging. This delayed editing can make your piece clearer and stronger. Fresh eyes often help you see places where you said things in more words than necessary. They also can tell where you may need to expand upon or make clearer.
Become an Expert in Spelling, Grammar, and Word Usage
There are many writers who tend to write a first draft then lean on someone to edit their work before they submit it. But, it really does help to know how to learn to proof your work on your own. Eliminating obvious spelling and grammatical errors is very helpful. You can also catch word usage problems yourself that grammar checkers may not find. Then, you can lean on any editor you have to catch more developmental things in your writing rather than the more basic mechanical things.
Most editors prefer having writers who are already pretty good at writing mechanics. This is crucial if you plan on submitting your writing to publications or plan to have it published. That doesn’t mean you have to be one hundred percent perfect all the time. But, keeping typos and errors to a minimum is a must to become a better writer, especially a professional writer.
Don’t Let Disappointment or Rejection Hold You Back from Writing
Most successful writers will tell you that their favorite writing pieces are those that have are rejected the most. Unfortunately, rejection is part of any business. Rejection is especially brutal at times in the writing business. It’s not uncommon for dozens or even hundreds of publishers and editorial publications to turn the same piece down.
To be a successful writer, learn not to take these rejections personally. Just move on to another outlet or the next writing project. You can always return to those pieces later to see if they need revision or just a new audience.
Most of the best writers out there now did not begin as highly-touted writing talents. In fact, many of them faced a major uphill climb to enjoy any professional success at all. The key is being relentless in developing writing skills. Don’t be afraid to submit early and often. Then, don’t stop writing. These are the keys of success in writing.
Talent is something that can be developed, no matter where you start out. Forget about what people think about your writing “talent.” Develop your writing skills and prove the naysayers wrong.
~ Amelia <3